13 February 2009

Thinking ... Valentine's Day Soup

Since Charlotte worked all day I decided to fix a little valentine's day dinner for us for when she got home. She normally works from her office at home but since she's in the flower biz this is a crazy time of year for her and she is out and about.

I've been having fun with Deborah Madison's Vegetable Soup book for the last few weeks, and have adapted the following recipe (not a bad one in the bunch so far!).


2 cups whole milk
1/2 onion sliced
4 large parsley branches
1 large thyme sprig or 2 pinches of dried
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, sliced
pinch of sea salt
10 peppercorns, lightly crushed with 5 juniper berries (if you can find'em)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks, about an inch across, white parts plus 1 inch of the greens, sliced diagonally about 1-inch thick and rinsed
8-10 cups vegetables, peeled and cut into big chunks (such as turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, potatoes, a (very) few celery stalks, and celery roots)
2 cups or 10 ounces of carrots, peeled and left whole if only 3 inches long, otherwise cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons flour
6 large slices french country bread, toasted in advance
Grated or sliced Gruyere cheese to cover the toast
Chopped fresh parsley or tarragon or a mixture for garnish

1. Put all the ingredients for the milk and aromatics in a saucepan, slowly bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover and set aside while you prepare the rest of the soup/vegetables.

2. Melt the butter in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables, bay leaf and parsley and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so to heat them up, gently stirring them about the pan.

3. Mix the flour and a little water until smooth then add more water to measure 5 cups. Add the flour water mixture to the soup pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender but still a little firm, 15-20 minutes. Strain the milk into a blender, add 1 cup of the vegetables (pick out a mixture of the veggies), and puree until completely smooth. Add the puree back to the soup. Bring back to a simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

4. To serve, lay a piece of toast in each bowl, cover it with grated cheese, spoon the soup with its liquid on top, and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.

ENJOY! Its especially delicious with your paramour, sparkling apple cider and gently falling snow outside the candle lit windows. I know that it will be even better tomorrow, and any leftovers will get pureed on Sunday!


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